These words were a philosophy for the young man's life, a life that lasted just 54 years.
His words were not published until 1888 and since then have become an inspiration for many, including former South African President, Nelson Mandela.
During Mandela's 27 year imprisonment on Robben Island these words comforted and inspired him during the darkest hours.
Now the poet's words reach and inspire a wider audience through a film of the same name "Invictus".
William Ernest Henley was the poet whose suffering from tuberculosis formed the remarkable words that guided his destiny.
Henley wrote the poem after having his left leg amputated below the knee and being told by doctors that a similar fate awaited his right foot. He refused to accept this and lived almost a further 30 years on one leg.
Invictus is Latin for "unconquerable" or "invincible". No one is invincible of course, but we can choose one of our greatest possessions--an unconquerable spirit. It was that unconquerable human spirit that inspired Henley's poem.
That spirit is no more evident than in the final verse:
"It matters not how strait the gate
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul."
Are you the master of your fate, are you the captain of your soul?
QUOTES TO CONSIDER
"I thank whatever Gods may be
For my unconquerable soul."
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), English poet, critic and editor.
Do you possess an unconquerable soul and always fight to reach your goal?
"And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid."
William Ernest Henley
Do the years find you unafraid for the life that you have made?